Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Rodgers, Hampson work on defensive versatility

Two top Rox prospects are practicing at second base and shortstop this spring
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

PHOENIX -- Brendan Rodgers started at second base for the Rockies against the Brewers on Saturday afternoon, but it was by no means the start of his day. Garrett Hampson was in the dugout slated to enter as a reserve, but the game was merely part of his day, too.

Rodgers, who is the Rockies' top prospect and the No. 14 in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and Hampson, Colorado's No. 7 prospect, often begin their day at a half-field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The early work and frequent game action -- Hampson leads the Rockies with 23 games played, and Rodgers is tied with first baseman/third baseman Ryan McMahon with 22 -- is meant to accelerate their learning curves.

PHOENIX -- Brendan Rodgers started at second base for the Rockies against the Brewers on Saturday afternoon, but it was by no means the start of his day. Garrett Hampson was in the dugout slated to enter as a reserve, but the game was merely part of his day, too.

Rodgers, who is the Rockies' top prospect and the No. 14 in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and Hampson, Colorado's No. 7 prospect, often begin their day at a half-field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The early work and frequent game action -- Hampson leads the Rockies with 23 games played, and Rodgers is tied with first baseman/third baseman Ryan McMahon with 22 -- is meant to accelerate their learning curves.

Most mornings begin with Rodgers and Hampson, usually joined by more experienced infielders Daniel Castro and Derrik Gibson, being rolled grounders by Rockies third-base coach Stu Cole, first at shortstop, then at second base. By rolling from short distances, Cole can control the repetitions, how far the fielder has to range, whether the catch is normal or backhanded and whether the double-play toss is overhand or underhand.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

Rodgers and Hampson aren't on the 40-man roster and haven't been professionals long. Rodgers, 21, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 Draft out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High School. Hampson, 23, was a third-round pick in 2016 out of Long Beach State. But it's possible they could arrive at Coors Field sometime this summer.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Both had been shortstops, but there's no guarantee the big league opportunity will happen there. Rodgers, who split last season between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Hartford, has played 165 professional games at shortstop and 34 at second base. Hampson, who spent all last year at Lancaster, has 120 appearances at shortstop and 72 at second.

"They're putting me at second and short, and I enjoy both positions," Rodgers said. "I'm still learning a lot at second base and even at shortstop. I'm getting out there at about 8:30 [a.m.] before meetings to get early work three times a week, just learning to move my feet, stuff like that."

Hampson, a shortstop in college, began last season at short in Lancaster while Rodgers was injured and moved to second when Rodgers returned. Hampson moved to short during Rodgers' time in Double-A.

"It doesn't really matter to me. I think I'm pretty comfortable at both," Hampson said. "I learned second base last year. I'd just played shortstop my whole life coming up. That was more natural to me. Different footwork, different angles."

Video: Top Prospects: Garrett Hampson, 2B, Rockies

Of course, everything can't be covered every day. Rodgers' inexperience showed during the second inning on Saturday.

The Brewers tried a double steal with Orlando Arcia headed to second and Jonathan Villar breaking for the plate. Rodgers dashed inward from second hoping to shorten catcher Tony Wolters' throw but took himself out of position to catch the ball.

Rockies manager Bud Black, however, did not assign blame. He said between Wolters and the middle infielders, a called play (which he didn't detail, for obvious reasons) was not executed properly.

But that's part of Spring Training's purpose. The other part is testing the players offensively. Rodgers entered Saturday with a .286 batting average and .362 on-base percentage with three home runs. Hampson was hitting .323 with a home run and a team-high six stolen bases.

Video: COL@LAA: Rodgers, Hampson crush homers in the 2nd

Both could logically be headed to Hartford to start the season, but there is a path to the Majors.

Behind second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is in the last year of club control at $8.5 million, and shortstop Trevor Story is utility man Pat Valaika. But there isn't another middle infielder on the 40-man roster. Castro has Major League experience with the Braves in 2015 and '16 and Gibson has played in Triple-A with the Red Sox, Orioles and Rockies. But it's clear the Rockies see the possibility for frontline duty for Rodgers or Hampson, or both.

Now it's a matter of the Rockies preparing them for it.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers